A Thousand Splendid Suns

Thank you Stella for commenting on my last post. I’ve been putting this blog on the back burner for some time now and I haven’t made time to continue. Your comment was a happy surprise, a little nudge that I needed. So, this will be a special post. I dedicate this to you, because coincidentally (as you are an actor), this post is a review of a play.

The play: A Thousand Splendid Suns (Arts Club Theatre Company).

Warning: some spoilers?

A Thousand Splendid Suns set
Credits: Sean Gordon (Graphic Designer)

Tuesday, sitting on the wooden cushioned seats at the Stanley Alliance Theatre, I travelled to Afghanistan. The struggles of two Afghan women, aged a decade and a half apart, unfolded before my eyes. Their lives merged when Rasheed, the husband of the older woman Mariam, took Laila, as a second wife.

Unlike the times I entered a theatre without knowing the story, this time I listened to the audiobook ahead. I knew what was coming: how Laila came to the care of Rasheed, how Mariam would come to despise Laila, and how they would develop a friendship, an alliance. I knew what the ending was and that there would be domestic violence, yet it wasn’t what I expected.

How is the play A Thousand Splendid Suns different from the novel?

What I didn’t expect was the way the scenes played out. In Khaled Hosseini’s novel, the story was more or less chronological. In the play, some of the details were revealed as flashbacks, or asides. For example, Laila would watch from the side as Mariam retells her childhood. Mariam would walk into her past, become her child self and interact with her mother.

Another time, Rasheed would question Laila about her childhood friend Tariq. Tariq would step on stage and we would get a fragment of Laila’s memory. These scenes revealed themselves at just the right times, giving us enough detail for us to want more.

Credits: Ken MacDonald (Set Designer), Robert Wierzel (Lighting Designer), Andrew Griffin (Associate Lighting Designer). Photo credits: DK.

The Takeaway

A Thousand Splendid Suns spoke of the oppression of women in Afghanistan. Sometimes it was symbolized by an apparition, constantly haunting Mariam at climactic points. There were stabbing lines that continued to make you bleed after you left the theatre, lines like, “A man’s accusing finger always finds a woman. Always…” and, “Endure.”

The two lead actors, Deena Aziz and Anita Majumdar, were outstanding. There were parts of the play that made me very emotional. In particular, when the music crept in during the second half, I could no longer hold back my tears. My empathy meter was off the charts and I forgot to bring tissues.

I enjoyed the play very much– even better than the audiobook. The production was excellent in many ways. By the end, I was experiencing rather than watching. Says a lot, doesn’t it? Mostly, I liked it because it connected me with my fellow humans.

Have you read the novel or watched the play too? Share your thoughts in the comments section or send me an email. Also, if you like this review, please let me know. I always want to share more of what others would enjoy too.

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